The Minneapolis cop who fatally shot an Australian woman during a police call was celebrated as one of the department’s few Somali-American officers, but had two open complaints against him and has been named in a recent lawsuit.
Mohamed Noor fired at Justine Damond on Saturday night while she was speaking to the officer’s partner.
Damond, who’d moved from Australia in 2015, had called police to report an assault. The incident has sparked international outrage.
Noor and his partner, identified as Matthew Harrity, hadn’t turned on their body cameras, according to reports, and have since been put on administrative leave.
Minneapolis officials previously hailed Noor as the first Somali-American officer in the department’s fifth police precinct, which covers the southwestern part of the city.
“I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,” Mayor Betsy Hodges wrote in a Facebook post last year. “Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall.”
Noor, 31, joined the police department in 2015, having previously worked in property management in Minneapolis and St. Louis, the Star Tribune reported.
He got a degree in business administration, management and economics from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, the newspaper reported.
Noor has since hired a lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, who said in a statement that Noor moved to the U.S. at a young age and found his calling as a cop.
Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor, 31, has two open complaints against him and was recently named in a lawsuit.
He is one of just nine Somali-Americans on the 840-officer police force, according to the Star Tribune.
Since he joined the department, three complaints have been filed against Noor, two of which remain open, according to the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review. It wasn’t immediately clear what those complaints were for.
Noor was also one of three officers named in a lawsuit filed on Friday by a Minnesota woman.
On May 25, Noor was one of three officers who responded to the home of Theresa Graham, who’d called police several times that day.
Graham, whose relatives said she had mental health issues, claimed in the lawsuit police were trying to take her away as retaliation for earlier complaints.
They entered her home despite her requests for them to leave, and two officers grabbed her by the arms, according to the 14-page complaint.
Noor took Graham’s phone “from her hand and then grabbed her right wrist and upper arm, thereby immobilizing her.”
Graham claimed she pleaded to be let go, having recently suffered a shoulder injury. Noor “lessened the tightness of his grip” on her right arm, but the police sergeant holding her left arm tightened his hold, the lawsuit claims.
Justine Damond was in her pajamas when she was fatally shot.
(Stephen Govel Photography/REUTERS)
Damond, born Justine Ruszczyk before taking her fiancé’s last name ahead of their nuptials, called police Saturday night to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.
She was in her pajamas when the police cruiser, driven by Harrity, arrived at the scene.
The officers were speaking with Damond when Noor fired across Harrity, hitting the 40-year-old woman in the abdomen.
The shooting sparked outrage, particularly because the officers’ body cameras were not on.
Noor “extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event. He takes their loss seriously and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers,” his attorney said in a statement.
“He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling.”
The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has taken over the investigation.
“Tonight, I’m sad, and disturbed,” Hodges wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “This is a tragedy—for the family, for a neighborhood I know well, and for our whole city.”
“My thoughts are with the family and the community. There is a long road of healing ahead, and a lot of work remains to be done.”